Bringing Joy from Ghana: Joseph Maxwell Ossei-Little Has Big Plans as Inaugural Hendricks Chapel Organ Scholar

Jospeh sits at a wooden organ wearing a black and gray jacket.

By Binaka Norris ‘23

The music scene in Ghana is often nothing less than vibrant: songs of hope, love and joy fill the streets, vocalized by community choirs and church groups. Music weaves itself into everyday routines of Ghanaian communities, creating a melodic home for many. From this musical environment, Setnor School of Music organ faculty member Dr. Anne Laver invited Joseph Maxwell Ossei-Little to enroll in the master’s degree program in Organ Performance as the inaugural Hendricks Chapel Organ Scholar. Joseph, a newlywed with a newborn son, made a solo journey from Ghana to Syracuse in August of 2022 following several pandemic and visa tribulations.

As the son of a Methodist minister, Joseph often changed schools, friends, and houses because of frequent family relocations. Through these disruptions, Joseph discovered his deep connection to music. When his school entered a regional music competition, they needed a sight-reader (a person who plays a piece at first sight) to represent them. Joseph’s older brother had been chosen but was unable to compete. So, as a last resort, the church organist offered Joseph two quick organ lessons and sent him to participate. Out of 16 candidates, Joseph placed fourth. Given his impressive musical ability after just two lessons, he decided to keep practicing. As he continued moving to new locations, music remained a constant in his life. His practice sessions kept him connected to his passion for music despite his ever-changing surroundings.

While Joseph certainly had a passion for music, he also had another love—the sciences. Originally, he graduated with his bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical studies. “I really didn’t have a social life because pharmacy was really packed,” said Joseph. “So right after lectures I would rush over to the music department to play the organ!”

After graduation, he decided to become certified as a professional musician. He completed exams to attend the Royal College of Music in London. The Royal College of Music annually sends examiners to Ghana to hear performances. Through this process, Joseph met Samuel Kuffuor-Afriyie ‘20, who organized a musicians’ workshop in Ghana, taught by Syracuse University faculty. At the workshop Joseph met Dr. Laver and Dr. Peppie Calvar, Associate Director of Choral Activities at Syracuse University. With the encouragement of Kuffuor-Afriyie, Laver, Calvar, and members of the Ossei-Little family, Joseph decided to pursue a master’s degree in organ performance at Syracuse University. But getting to the United States proved to be an almost insurmountable challenge.

As many international students are aware, the visa process can be difficult to navigate. Joseph applied for his visa in February 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic which brought travel to a stop in March 2020, his educational process was quickly halted. After applying twice for a visa, Joseph finally received approval in August 2022.

Joseph performs at Hendricks Chapel for a variety of events, such as the popular Music and Message series.

Since arriving at the Setnor School of Music, Joseph has immersed himself in both academics and campus social life, particularly through his position as the Inaugural Hendricks Chapel Organ. The inaugural Hendricks Chapel Organ Scholar is a relatively new position in which Dr. Laver, along with Dr. Calvar and others, guide students who are passionate about organ performance and expand their music skills.

“Hendricks Chapel Dean Brian Konkol agreed to create this new graduate assistantship in consultation with me to provide more support for the chapel’s expanding music program, says Laver. As the inaugural Hendricks Chapel Organ Scholar, he assists the Hendricks Chapel Choir and performs at Hendricks Chapel’s programs such as Holidays at Hendricks and Music & Message.

Ossei-Little says, “I’ve really loved singing on Sundays at Music & Message! The choir and directors really make the program amazing. After performing, you receive applause and analyze your presentation. You feel like you are on top of the world.” But not everything is perfect. He has been married for just over one year and his baby son was just born. He left his new wife and baby, parents, siblings, and his job as a pharmacist back in Ghana. Despite this, Joseph remains inspired. After finishing his studies, he hopes to pioneer the first program for organ music in Ghana.

“One of my biggest dreams is to create a program for organ music in Ghana. It’s really been my passion to get a program started in Ghana when I go back. I know there’s a lot of talent in Ghana.” Joseph has already co-founded a new association for organists in Ghana with another Syracuse alumnus, Augustine Sobeng G’21 and he hopes to work with universities in Ghana to create undergraduate programs for students in organ performance. While he hasn’t worked out all the details, he explains, “The primary aim is to be able to impart all that I’ve learned at Syracuse University and inspire the next generation.”

Joseph and his wife on their wedding day.

Lutheran Chaplain Announces Retirement from Syracuse University

After 15 years of service as Lutheran Chaplain at Hendricks Chapel of Syracuse University, Rev. Dr. Gail Riina has announced her retirement, effective at the end of July.

Pastor Gail (as she is often known by students) served in numerous campus contexts throughout her years of ministry, including George Washington University, Cornell University, and The State University of New York at Buffalo before arriving at Syracuse University in 2009. Through her focus on vocational discernment and pastoral counseling, Pastor Gail was committed to sharing a Lutheran expression of Christianity in ways that met the evolving needs of a diverse student body.

Lutheran pastor Rev. Gail Riina stands with fellow chaplains in her white pastor's robe.
Lutheran pastor Rev. Gail Riina stands with fellow chaplains in her white pastor’s robe.

“Throughout her years of ministry at Syracuse University, Pastor Gail Riina embodied her Christian faith through a genuine care for students and principled commitment to inclusive community impact,” says Rev. Dr. Brian Konkol, Dean of Hendricks Chapel. “Through a remarkable ability to both proclaim her own beliefs and also learn from the beliefs of others, she empowered countless students to grow and flourish as leaders, and she now leaves a foundation for others to build upon and appreciate. I am personally grateful for her friendship and wish her the fullness of God’s blessings for the next chapter in her journey.”

In addition to her on-campus presence, Pastor Gail also championed many community initiatives, such as “Success Saturdays” that involved tutoring New American students, providing support, and building cultural competency. “Pastor Gail has shaped both the Lutheran Chaplaincy and Hendricks Chapel’s Chaplains’ Council in countless ways by infusing the values of loving-kindness, social justice, and care for the earth in all that she does, says Associate Dean, Rebecca Reed Kantrowitz. “Gail’s work with area refugees, coupled with numerous community service projects, has made a lasting impact not only on the Central New York community but also on the hundreds of students, staff, and faculty with whom she has worked.”

Pastor Riina delivers a heartfelt message at the Blessing of Students.

“My greatest joy has been to be a part of building relationships of trust and dialogue, and to witness how community is the catalyst for students’ growth,” says Riina. “My experience has deepened my faith in the power of God to heal and transform and my hope for greater peace throughout the world.”

In partnership with Dean Konkol and Hendricks Chapel, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Upstate New York Synod will launch a search for the next Lutheran Chaplain.

Hendricks Chapel Presents “Return to Community: A Sunday Gospel Jazz Service” in Conjunction with Syracuse Jazz Fest

As the grand finale of Syracuse Jazz Fest in 2023, Hendricks Chapel at Syracuse University will host “Return to Community: A Sunday Gospel Jazz Service”, featuring the Concert Choir of Dillard University (New Orleans, LA), Black Celestial Choral Ensemble (BCCE) of Syracuse University, and a community choir composed of Syracuse area residents.

This first-of-its-kind program will offer a dynamic and inclusive spiritual experience that fuses and celebrates Gospel and Jazz music, includes a pre-event welcome luncheon, and seeks to spark and sustain renewal in our local community and beyond. The program and luncheon are both free of charge, and open to all.

No registration is necessary however, you may join the Facebook event to receive reminders.

“Return to Community: A Sunday Gospel Jazz Service”
Sunday, June 25, 2023
Program: 3:00pm
Pre-Event Luncheon: 12:30pm

Click here for more information on the luncheon.


Several choir members in black choral wear sing with their hands raised in the air. The Dillard University Concert Choir

Through the leadership of Samuel Carver Davenport, Dillard University’s Ray Charles Endowed Professor in Music, the nationally renowned Dillard University Concert Choir features vibrant student voices from across North America. The choir recently performed for the nationally televised Historically Black College and University (HBCU) All-Star Game as well as the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) Annual Education Conference, with the choir being described as “surpassed only by the angels of heaven.”

Located in New Orleans and established in 1869, Dillard University is Louisiana’s oldest historically Black college. As a private faith-based liberal arts university that offers 22 majors and two certificate programs, the university “cultivates leaders who live ethically, think and communicate precisely, and act courageously to make the world a better place.”

The Black Celestial Choral Ensemble (BCCE) of Syracuse University

Founded in 1977 by Rev. Dr. Seretta C. McKnight to provide a spiritual home for Black students at Syracuse University, the Black Celestial Choral Ensemble (BCCE) ministers through Gospel music that fosters and supports academic excellence at a university welcoming to all. Led by student director Gabrielle Pinkney ’24 and supported through The Alumni Group (TAG) of the BCEE, the choir has performed at numerous venues throughout North America, including the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church (Atlanta, GA), the spiritual home of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and currently led by Rev. Dr. Senator Raphael Warnock.

Gospel Jazz Community Choir

To honor the 2023 Sunday Gospel Jazz Service theme of “Return to Community”, a diverse community choir composed of Syracuse area residents will be led by Cora Thomas, known locally as the “First Lady of Gospel Music”. Born and raised in Syracuse, Thomas supports numerous community organizations and hosts “Sunday Morning Gospel” on WAER 88.3 of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

All interested in participating in the community choir may contact Cora Thomas at or Hendricks Chapel at or 315.443.2901.

For additional information on 2023 Syracuse Jazz Fest, please visit


Pre-Event Outdoor Welcome Luncheon

Sponsored by the Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Ministry (FELM), and to express the 2023 Sunday Gospel Jazz Service theme of “Return to Community”, a pre-event outdoor welcome luncheon, featuring free food and refreshments, will take place on the Kenneth A. Shaw Quadrangle of Syracuse University from 12:30-2:30pm. At 2:30pm all luncheon guests will be invited into Hendricks Chapel for the 3:00pm Sunday Gospel Jazz Service start time.


How an Imam and Rabbi Impact a University Campus Through Friendship

By Dara Harper

In March, two of Syracuse University’s religious leaders unlocked the potential of a funding grant, engaged their respective students, and built understanding around their distinctive religions.

It started when colleagues and friends Imam Amir Durić and Rabbi Ethan Bair had an idea for strengthening their chaplaincies through bringing students into their circle of friendship.

Both Bair and Durić have a history of interfaith collaboration. Rabbi Bair’s earliest family memories include sharing Dec. 25 with Iranian Sufi Muslim neighbors. “We had a tradition of getting together on the 25th since it wasn’t either of our holidays and we would have dinner together,” reminisced Bair. “I love the idea of not just knowing your neighbors but becoming friends with your neighbors.”

Muslim Student Association students enjoyed dinner at Syracuse Hillel.

At Hendricks Chapel, known as the spiritual heart of Syracuse University since 1930, friendships between chaplains aren’t new territory. In the mid-1990’s the Jewish and Muslim chaplains shared an office on the lower level of the chapel.

The rabbi and imam no longer share an office, but Durić and Bair wanted to engage their groups in both sharing meals and partnering on service opportunities. Bair discovered a special funding opportunity through Hillel International in partnership with the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation, allowing the two groups to sponsor a meal and a service project.

If we all just live in our own bubbles, we will end up being limited and having limited impact. Connecting and collaborating with others is really what makes us better. — Imam Amir Durić

Rabbi Ethan Bair (left) and Imam Amir Durić (right) met at the Hendricks Chapel staff and chaplain retreat in August 2022.

When the two religious leaders met at Hendricks Chapel’s annual staff and chaplain retreat in August, Durić and Bair gravitated toward one another, discussing their chaplaincies and students. They immediately recognized commonalities and identified a path toward collaboration.

Durić joined Hendricks Chapel and the Muslim Student Life organization at Syracuse University as chaplain in 2017. Durić previously served as the Imam, Khatib, and Mu’allim for ten years: three years in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Hercegovina, and seven years in the United States, Delaware Valley-Philadelphia region.

Rabbi Bair began his tenure at Syracuse University’s Hendricks Chapel and Syracuse Hillel in July of 2023, after having served as congregational rabbi in Miami Beach and as campus rabbi at the University of Southern California’s Hillel center, among other positions.

As a multifaith chapel for over 90 years, Hendricks Chapel is a place where religious leaders are encouraged to work together and share common spaces, and a genuine friendship adds an extra realm of possibility. So, when the grant from Interfaith America was acquired, Durić and Bair knew they could make their ideas of bringing the students together into a reality.

A Holy Overlap

It’s not every year that the Muslim Holy Month of Ramadan and Jewish Passover holy days overlap. During the Spring Semester of 2023, this was a unique opportunity for Syracuse Hillel to host a Muslim iftar (dinner) in the Hillel building. With Muslim students fasting from dawn to dusk, a catered meal at sundown was a welcome invitation. The Muslim and Jewish chaplaincies each invited 60 students to the dinner, and each had one or more student leads to help the groups connect with each other. Sadie Roberts ’27, a student in the School of Architecture, worked closely with Mian Muhammad Abdul Hamid ’25, who attends the School of Information Studies.

Students made fast friends at the Muslim Student Association (MSA) + Syracuse Hillel combined iftar during the Holy Month of Ramadan.

“If you show respect and you’re genuine, then you’ll be able to make good friends,” says Hamid. In that spirit, the two students created conversation starter questions for the dinner tables and a digital quiz:

  1. How does fasting work in each of your religions?
  2. Do you find it difficult to balance your religion with school related

         obligations in college?

  1. Based on the climate we live in today; how do you think religion plays a

          part in your own life or the lives of others?

  1. What keeps you grounded in your faith?
  2. What are some challenges you have faced due to your faith?
Imam Durić posed with students at Syracuse Hillel.

During the dinner those in attendance discussed how their respective fasting practices differed, and how they were similar. They discussed discriminations that they’ve faced because of their identities and beliefs. The students discovered more similarities than differences in their lives. Rev. Dr. Brian Konkol, dean of Hendricks Chapel at Syracuse University, states that the chapel aspires to be “a both/and place in an either/or world,” and that is what the students seemed to realize at their dinner.

For Rabbi Bair, the coming together and collaboration of their chaplaincies will hopefully strengthen their students’ personal faith and the entire University community.

“A big part of the purpose for me of having a strong Jewish community is to be able to partner with others: to share our culture and learn from other cultures. The values of diversity that we aspire to live with on campus can only happen when we take that extra step and reach out to co-plan events with other groups. I think that’s where the magic happens,” says Bair. “That night at the iftar hosted by Hillel, I walked around and saw people having some awkward conversations, some funny conversations, and seeing students getting out of their comfort zones a little bit, or maybe leaning just at the edge of their comfort. That’s what it’s all about for me.”

The other revelation of the evening included continued dialogue around an important word that is found in both traditions. While spelled differently in Hebrew and Arabic, tzedakah/sadaqah has a similar meaning and importance to both groups. Tzedakah/Sadaqah is the concept of the responsibility of charitable giving that are tenets of both the Ramadan and Passover holy days.

“During Ramadan we are expected to boost our empathy and to strengthen our compassion,” says Durić. “Community service helps with that. It is a concrete action that easily becomes part of Ramadan observance.” In Muslim texts, sadaqah holds high religious importance, as it is a term that refers to wide a spectrum of giving and compassion. The term encompasses love, friendship, kindness, generosity, and religious duty.

Students enjoying dinner together.

And, according to the Talmud, tzedakah is as important as all the other commandments combined. The Jewish law describes the act of giving tzedakah as mitzvah, which means a religious duty to perform a good deed.

“Passover has a message around food justice stating that all who are hungry, can come eat,” says Bair. “There are also messages of inclusivity and making sure everyone of every socioeconomic status has a meal to attend.”

Teaming Up to Bring Tzedakah/Sadaqah into Action

In addition to the iftar, the two groups wanted to embark upon a service project. They collectively chose to support the CNY Diaper Bank. With hundreds of dollars’ worth of diapers, Durić and Bair gathered ten Muslim and ten Jewish students to package bags of diapers for parents in Central New York.

On the drive to the facility, Bair connected with Adam Baltaxe enrolled in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and the College of Arts and Sciences. As a Jewish student with many Muslim friends, Baltaxe has chosen to fast during the entire month of Ramadan in solidarity with his friends.

Ten Muslim and ten Jewish students donated time and energy (and diapers!) at the CNY Diaper Bank.

“People forget that we’re all human. We’re way more similar than we are different. Rabbi Bair is really bringing a new perspective toward the way we look at other cultures and other people and that takes away from the divides that are currently keeping us apart,” Baltaxe says. “I mean, right now there’s enough in this world that is trying to keep different groups of people apart. Imam Durić and Rabbi Bair are trying to connect multiple communities that have long histories of battling, arguing, conflict and that is really healthy. I’m very happy to reenter this space of Judaism under Rabbi Bair’s leadership.”

What a Friendship Between Two Religious Leaders Means to Their Students

Modeling friendship in a tense world is challenging, but when two religious leaders focus their efforts not just around collaboration or academic politeness, it is felt deeply. Their relationship is authentic, honest, open, and kind.

Durić remembers his first meeting with Bair. “Sometimes you meet a person and you feel you have known them for so long. It is personally how I felt when I met Rabbi Bair. So there is some deeper connection, I guess, on whatever level. But you feel you can do more together…and then there is that acknowledgment of who you are and your shared challenges and values. When you put all that together, it is what makes it so special. Now, planning projects and programs together is deepening that relationship,” Durić says.

“Rabbi Bair and Imam Durić have such a meaningful friendship. To me it symbolizes progress and success, and it makes me proud of who I am,” says Roberts.

Bair is becoming distinctly aware of the impact that their friendship has on his students. He says, “It’s always good to have a friend, but when you can develop a friendship and also invite students into that circle, I think that’s really special. I am very grateful to have Amir as a friend.”

The Work Isn’t Over

Both Bair and Durić have been asked about future collaborations between their groups. They plan to keep up the momentum by continuing to share events and service projects. The two friends continue to pave the path forward. “I think the more common ground we create together, the safer our students may feel to engage in diverse friendships and meaningful topics down the road,” Bair says.


Imam Durić and Rabbi Bair share a moment at the CNY Diaper Bank.


Hendricks Chapel Announces New Hindu Chaplaincy; Welcomes Sanjay Mathur As Hindu Chaplain

Hendricks Chapel at Syracuse University is excited to announce a new Hindu Chaplaincy and appoint Sanjay Mathur as the inaugural Hindu Chaplain.

“To welcome a Hindu Chaplaincy to Syracuse University is an occasion for tremendous celebration,” said the Rev. Brian Konkol, Dean of Hendricks Chapel. “I am grateful for the students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends who contributed to this historic moment. We at Hendricks Chapel are excited for Sanjay Mathur to join our diverse and dynamic team of chaplains, and I look forward to our shared future in service to our common good.”

The Hindu Student Association (HSA), one of twenty-five religious and spiritual life groups at Hendricks Chapel, was founded in 2018 and provided a strong foundation for a new Hindu Chaplaincy. Through the efforts of inaugural student president Akshay Bapat ’21, Associate Dean of Hendricks Chapel Rebecca Reed Kantrowitz, the late Anju Varshney, and Dr. Pramod Varshney, Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in the College of Engineering & Computer Science at Syracuse University, the HSA has grown significantly and now serves hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

“I am truly delighted to learn that a Hindu chaplain is coming onboard at Hendricks Chapel. He will serve a large Hindu community at Syracuse University. It has been a longstanding need,” stated Dr. Varshney. “I would like to thank Dean Brian Konkol for recognizing this and for his vision to enhance Chapel offerings to include our Hindu student population.”

Chaplain Sanjay Mathur

A founding board member of the North American Hindu Chaplains Association (NHCA), Sanjay Mathur is a national leader with strong ties to Central New York. In addition to serving as Hindu Chaplain for the Rochester Institute of Technology and University of Rochester, he has served as President in the past and is currently on the Board of Trustees for the Hindu Temple of Rochester (Rochester, New York), and is a sought-after speaker and teacher on spirituality and health.

“The addition of Chaplain Mathur is a meaningful step towards furthering HSA’s mission to foster a welcoming environment of Hindu spirituality on campus that supports the pursuit and practice of Dharma,” said Siya Kumar ‘24, the current president of the HSA and student of Public Health at Syracuse University. “We look forward to furthering our programs, resources, events, and support with the guidance of a professional who has ample experience and an even bigger heart.”

As the newest chaplain at Hendricks Chapel, Chaplain Mathur will partner with nine other chaplaincies to draw upon his traditions and practices to serve as a resource for the entire Syracuse University campus community. “I have the courage to work, persist, grow and inspire people in the Hindu tradition; to learn about reflective listening and compassionate care,” stated Chaplain Mathur.

To welcome Chaplain Mathur to Syracuse University, the Hindu Student Association will host a Ram Navami Pooja in Hendricks Chapel at 4:00pm on Friday, April 7th. Following the program, all members of the campus community are invited to a reception in the Noble Room at 5:30pm.

Upcoming Religious and Spiritual Observances at Hendricks Chapel

In the coming days and weeks, several significant religious and spiritual traditions will be honored and celebrated by numerous members of the Syracuse University campus community. Through Easter, Passover, Ramadan, Ram Navami and more, all students, faculty, and staff are invited to learn of these opportunities and support Syracuse University’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility.

The following is a summary of upcoming opportunities, with a full listing of Hendricks Chapel programs and services found HERE:

Baptist Chaplaincy

April 7
Good Friday

11:30 AM — Good Friday Service at Hendricks Chapel — Our Christian chaplains will be offering blessings at this service.

April 9


11 AM — Easter Sunday Service at Hendricks Chapel

12:15 PM – 1:30 PM — Easter Lunch


Buddhist Chaplaincy

April 15
Buddha’s Birthday

6 PM — Celebrate the Buddha’s Birthday!
Contact JoAnn Cooke for more information at


Catholic Chaplaincy/SU Catholic Center

April 6
Holy Thursday

7 PM — SU Catholic Center — Mass of the Lord’s Supper (includes washing of the feet) followed by dinner

Available until 9 PM at the SU Catholic Center — Eucharistic Adoration **

April 7
Good Friday

11:30 AM — Good Friday Service at Hendricks Chapel — Our Christian chaplains will be offering blessings at this service.

3 PM at Catholic Center — Celebration of the Lord’s Passion

4:30 PM at Catholic Center — Stations of the Cross

April 8
Holy Saturday

7:30 PM at Catholic Center — Easter Vigil Mass — Includes baptisms, first communions, confirmations and renewal of baptismal promises.

April 9
Easter Sunday

10:30 AM at Catholic Center — Easter Sunday Mass

1 PM at Hendricks Chapel — Easter Sunday Mass**

** Mass is live-streamed on the SU Catholic Center YouTube pageand will be posted to the SU Catholic Facebook page at the conclusion of Mass.

For additional information, or to ask for accommodations, please contact Campus Minister Danielle Drop at or 315.443.2651.


Evangelical Chaplaincy

April 6 

Maundy Thursday
12 PM to 1:15PM — Friendship Luncheon — in the Noble Room. Includes chat about the significance of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday.


12 PM — Foot Washing (example) before the Friendship Luncheon, jointly sponsored by the Evangelical Chaplaincy and Lutheran Campus Ministry.

April 7
Good Friday
11:30 AM – Good Friday Service at Hendricks Chapel — Our Christian chaplains will be offering blessings at this service.


Hindu Chaplaincy

April 7
Ram Navami Pooja and Welcome to Hindu Chaplain, Sanjay Mathur

4-5:30 PM Ram Navami Pooja
5:30-6:30 PM Reception to welcome new Hindu Chaplain

Historically Black Church Chaplaincy

April 7
Good Friday
11:30 AM – Good Friday Service at Hendricks Chapel — Our Christian chaplains will be offering blessings at this service.


Jewish Chaplaincy/Syracuse Hillel

April 5
First Night Seder

6:00 PM Goldstein Auditorium, Schine Student Center

Register here!

April 6
Second Night Seders

6:00 PM — Syracuse Hillel, Winnick Center for Jewish Life

Register here!


Inclusive Multi-Cultural Passover Seder

Experience Passover with Syracuse Hillel, Jewish and non-Jewish peers from diverse

backgrounds for a Passover seder with special attention to social justice themes.

Pajama & Coloring Passover Seder

     Come in pajamas for a comfy, fun-filled seder that will channel your inner child. (Think make-

     your-own puppets, color and sing with guitar).

Host Your Own Seder

     Syracuse Hillel will support you to host your own with a per-person reimbursement once you   

     send us pictures!

April 6-13
Kosher for Passover Meals

At Syracuse Hillel, Winnick Center for Jewish Life

Syracuse Hillel will offer two K-for-P meals per day throughout the holiday.

Lunch: 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Just show up (no RSVP needed)!

Dinner: 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Just show up (no RSVP needed)!

April 10
Special Mid-Week Passover Meal
5:30-7:00 p.m. Just show up (no RSVP needed)!

For additional information, or to ask for accommodations, please contact Rabbi Ethan Bair or 617.676.7997.


Lutheran Campus Ministry

April 6
Maundy Thursday
12 PM to 1:15PM — Friendship Luncheon — in the Noble Room. Includes chat about the significance of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday.

12 PM — Foot Washing (example) before the Friendship Luncheon, jointly sponsored by the Evangelical Chaplaincy and Lutheran Campus Ministry.

7 PM — at Koinonia House (at the Parsonage, 100 Berkeley Drive) — Remembrance of the Last Supper — We will celebrate Jesus’ Call to Service and share a meal like the dinner He ate with His disciples.

April 7
Good Friday

11:30 AM — Good Friday Service at Hendricks Chapel — Our Christian chaplains will be offering blessings at this service.

April 9
Easter Sunday

5:30 PM — “ALLELUIA Christ is Risen!” Join us to Celebrate New Life in Christ at worship in the Noble Room of Hendricks Chapel

7:00 PM — Followed by an Easter Feast! Dinner reservations requested to help with planning — please email

For additional information, or to ask for accommodations, please contact Rev. Gail Riina at


Muslim Chaplaincy

Ramadan began at sunset on Wednesday, March 22. The first full day of fasting was Thursday, March 23 and there are 29 fasting days this year.

Iftars will take place in Hendricks Chapel’s Noble Room on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings during the holiday.

April 4
Community Iftar
7 PM — Community Iftar — Goldstein Auditorium — All are welcome. RSVP HERE!

April 21
Eid al-Fitr
9 AM-10 AM —Hendricks Chapel —Celebrate with a service followed by an Eid brunch in the Noble Room (Hendricks Chapel).

For additional information, or to ask for accommodations, please contact Imam Amir Duric at


United Methodist Ecumenical Campus Ministry

April 7
Good Friday
11:30 AM – Good Friday Service at Hendricks Chapel — Our Christian chaplains will be offering blessings at this service.

Seven Top Reasons to Attend Interfaith Exploration Week!

Hendricks Chapel is celebrating religious and spiritual diversity and inclusion through Interfaith Exploration Week. All students, faculty, and staff are invited to participate in a series of gatherings that provide a safe space to learn about diverse religious and spiritual traditions, rediscover familiar traditions, and build relationships and understanding across barriers. Hosted by the Chaplains of Hendricks Chapel, participants can attend Jumuah prayer, a Buddhist meditation, Catholic Mass, Shabbat dinner, and more. The week will kick off with a special Interfaith Dinner & Conversation on Wednesday, Feb. 1st from 4:30-6:00 pm. For the full schedule and details, visit our website.

Here are the top seven reasons you may want to explore:

  1. Learn about other faith communities. You may have a Jewish friend who you met in the residence hall, but you don’t know a great deal about Judaism. Interfaith Exploration Week is a ideal time to learn about your friends and their beliefs.
  2. Deepen your sense of religious and spiritual diversity. If you have been raised in a particular faith community, attending university may be the first time you’ve met Buddhists, Muslims, Baptists, etc. One of the best ways to create understanding is to observe another’s practice.
  3. Find your own community of faith. Leaving home also means leaving your home place of worship. Finding a faith community at school can offer a home away from home. Additionally, you may find yourself ready to create new opportunities as you expand your center of understanding.
  4. Have Fun! It’s just fun to be with new people in new places!
  5. Meet the chaplains. Did you know that our chaplains are confidential resources? If you are in crisis or just need someone to talk to, you can meet with any of our chaplains. Each chaplain is here to support our entire student body, regardless of your spiritual, religious, or non-religious practice.
  6. Make friends! In these programs, you will meet new people. Perhaps you’ve seen them in your residence hall or in class but have never had a chance to connect. Now you’ll have an experience in common!
  7. Hendricks Chapel is a “home for all faiths and a place all people. With nine chaplaincies and more than 25 student and religious groups, Hendricks Chapel celebrates and observes many traditions. At Interfaith Exploration Week events, you can ask questions, learn, and experience concepts new to you!


“Interfaith Exploration Week is an opportunity to create and sustain curiosity, understanding and expression,” said Brian Konkol, dean of Hendricks Chapel. “We hope that all participants can learn about others, and also learn about themselves, all in service to our common good.”

Interfaith Exploration Week is organized by the Student Assembly of Interfaith Leaders (SAIL), chaplains, religious and spiritual life group advisors, and the staff of Hendricks Chapel.

For the full schedule and details, visit our website or call us at 315.443.2901 or email





Hendricks Chapel Welcomes Assistant Muslim Chaplain Imam Dzemal Crnkić

Hendricks Chapel recently welcomed Imam Dzemal Crnkić as assistant Muslim chaplain. Imam Crnkić will assist Chaplain Amir Durić to further advance academic excellence in a university welcoming to all.

Photo of Dzemal Crnkic

Dean Brian Konkol says, “As the Muslim Chaplaincy continues to experience significant growth in student engagement, I am overjoyed to welcome Imam Dzemal Crnkić to our Syracuse University campus community, as he and Imam Amir Durić will build a dynamic collaboration to ensure Hendricks Chapel is leading in service to our common good.”

Dzemal recently moved to Syracuse from Pennsylvania, where he served as imam for the Bosnia & Herzegovina Islamic Center of Pennsylvania. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Alvernia University (Reading, Pennsylvania) studying leadership, with a focus on leadership challenges among immigrant communities.

In addition to his demonstrated commitment to Muslim students, faculty and staff, Imam Crnkić is also dedicated to building multifaith relationships and community-wide interfaith programs.

“I am thrilled that Imam Dzemal accepted our invitation to join the Muslim Chaplaincy team,” says Imam Durić. “His leadership skills, creativity and enthusiasm will enhance the scope of our programming, and assist the chaplaincy in creating additional outreach and engagement opportunities for our students. It is my great honor to welcome him to the Orange family.”

From Afghanistan to Syracuse University: A Student’s Journey to Find Balance

By Dara Harper

Abdul Bashir Pazhwak of Afghanistan, currently a Ph.D. student at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, completed his Ph.D. application entirely on his iPhone while living in a German refugee camp.

On Aug. 15, 2021, Abdul Bashir Pazhwak, an Afghan diplomat, nervously sat in his office at the Afghan embassy in Cairo, Egypt. He watched on television, as so many did, the fall of the western-backed Afghan government led by President Ashraf Ghani. Pazhwak, who had been in the Afghan Foreign Service since 2008, knew that he could not work for the Taliban. He packed up a few things and catapulted himself across the Mediterranean Sea to land in a German refugee camp.

Pazhwak grew up in Northern Afghanistan and attended a Turkish school in his younger years before receiving a degree in Law and Political Science at Balkh University. Just after graduating, he entered the foreign service and trained in several countries including Hungary, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, United Arab Emirates, Bulgaria, and more.

His first post in 2013 was as a diplomat to the Afghan embassy in Seoul, South Korea. While there, he received his master’s in business administration at Sejong University. Sejong has a longstanding partnership with the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University, which led to Pazhwak meeting Dr. Ted Wallin.

Dr. Wallin is a professor emeritus who led the Franklin and Salzberg Supply Chain Management program at Whitman for 27 years. When Pazhwak met him, Wallin was professor and co-dean in the School of Business at Sejong University. Dr. Wallin and Pazhwak were fast friends and kept in touch when Pazhwak returned to Afghanistan in 2016.

While living and working at the foreign service in Afghanistan, Pazhwak wanted to serve young people and began teaching in local universities. He authored a book titled “Intellectual Revolution: Solutions to the Youth Social Problems” that was published in 2018. After a few years, he was posted as a diplomat in Cairo. He believed, along with many others, that he would never see the Taliban return to power in his homeland. When he saw the reports of people flocking to the airport attempting to escape, he believed he had witnessed the fate of Afghanistan. He then left his post to flee to Germany.

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency by the end of 2021, there were 3.5 million internally displaced Afghans, 2.7 million were forced across borders and lived as refugees across 98 different countries.

Pazhwak resided in a German refugee camp for a total of eight months, having never thought that, as a highly educated diplomat from an upper middle-class family, he could ever end up in such a position. As he considered his next steps and hoped for asylum, he received an important phone call: the first person to check on him and his well-being was none other than Professor Wallin, calling from Syracuse.

Dr. Wallin listened to Pazhwak’s situation and immediately hatched a plan to bring him to Syracuse. He helped Pazhwak find the information needed to apply for an interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in the Social Science department of Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Wallin checked in with his university connections at Hendricks Chapel and several Syracuse University schools and colleagues and they began a fundraising campaign to bring Pazhwak to the United States.

All Pazhwak had to do was be accepted into the Ph.D. program, which is a difficult task on its own, but living in a refugee camp and applying for school had numerous additional complications. There were no computers, no quiet spaces, no libraries. Pazhwak worked from 6 PM to 3 AM for weeks on the application. He completed the entire application on his iPhone.

Pazhwak arrived in Syracuse just before the beginning of the fall 2022 semester; and almost one year from when the Taliban overthrew the government. He is grateful to Professor Wallin and others who worked tirelessly to get him to Syracuse University.

At the same time, his own country is still in a state of disarray. After many years of women enjoying the freedom to attend school and work outside of the home, the Taliban have rescinded their early promises in 2021 to allow women’s freedoms to continue. According to an article in Al Jazeera dated Dec. 22, 2022, women have been barred from their university classes, secondary schools, parks, and gyms. Women are no longer allowed to travel between cities without a male escort and must be fully covered in public.

Pazhwak hopes to use his doctoral education focused on conflict resolution, peacebuilding, negotiation, and international migration to help restore balance both for his country and himself.